So, after over a month of use I have come to some conclusions in my iPhone verse Palm Pre internal debate. I know there are a million articles touting either of these two phones as the greatest, and probably as many that speak to Google’s Android as being the best. I do not have enough Android experience to weigh in on the merits of this phone OS, so I will just stick with the two that I have.
First, neither phone is the end all be all answer to my geeky needs. That being said, for work/business use I prefer the iPhone, but for everyday use of my personal needs I prefer the Palm. Now that I have completely straddled the fence let me explain.
Palm OS does an excellent job integrating into my personal life. Upon getting the phone I entered my Gmail address and password and right away started seeing my Gmail inbox on my phone which I completely expected. However, what I did not expect was that my Google calendar, Google contacts, and gtalk friends all integrated right into my phone. That was a very nice touch and it will also let me sign into my aim chat all from the phone without having to install any additional apps. Everyone wants to bag on the Palm phone because there are so few apps. The realization I have come to is that I do not use / need that many apps to meet all of my needs. The first app I loaded was Facebook for Palm OS. When this was installed I signed in and suddenly my contacts list swelled to add all of these users to my contacts as well. This was a super cool feature and also integrated everyone’s profile picture into the contact list. Plus, if someone has their mobile number in their Facebook it will show their profile picture when they are calling you. This is a nice feature and carries out all throughout the phone’s interface. When looking someone up on the contact list you can click on them and see all of the ways you are connected to this person, Facebook, GTalk, Mobile, and email. Click on any of these links and it connects you to that contact through that service. It is very seamless and simple to use. I think this might be the easiest to use of the smartphones I have played with, plus there is no need to connect it to a PC / Mac like the iPhone and eve iPad requires.
As far as the available applications for the Palm, I have found they cover the needed areas. After Facebook the next applications I added was Foursquare, which I use to make it easier for stalkers to find and track me. This is a great app and works the same on iPhone or Palm, it just works much faster on the Palm. All of the location aware apps I have on the Palm were apps I first had on the iPhone. When opening the two apps at the same time the Palm will almost always beat the iPhone to acquiring your location and connecting to the internet to reference your location to post your data in the chosen application.
My other favorite feature of the Palm and one of my primary reasons for purchasing it was the Mobile Hotspot feature. I have not used this app nearly as much as my wife has, but when I have needed it I have not been disappointed. It starts up quickly and gets me right to the internet via Wi-Fi and it surfs at a more than reasonable speed. You can connect your iPhone to it via Wi-Fi and the internet is much faster on the iPhone in his manner than it is even on At&T’s 3G network (which is not available where I live). In our area Verizon’s network is far superior to At&T’s is. With that said, onto the strengths of the iPhone.
Don’t get me wrong I really like the iPhone, it is a great piece of hardware. There are just some issues I have with it and the network it runs on that make it less useful for my usage habits. The iPhone does not multitask, I know half of you are shocked and have your hands placed over your mouths, and I know the other half are screaming at your screen telling me the next version does multitasking. Calm down fanboys I know that next version is “supposed” to have multitasking. But right now, today, on my iPhone, there is no multitasking. It is very common for me to get an SMS message while I am in my email or on the web with my phone. On the Palm I can leave all of those apps up and switch between them effortlessly. Just a swipe up and over and pick whichever app I need to get back into. On the iPhone I feel like I lose a lot of time waiting on applications to load when I am trying to rapidly switch between them. When you are in Safari and have to switch over the email to see what you have just gotten you do it begrudgingly knowing you will have to wait for that Wikipedia page to load back up after responding to the email you just received. I often leave up 3 or 4 apps at a time on the Palm that are the most used apps (SMS, web browser, Facebook, Gmail). I do think this practice of having several apps up at a time eats into my battery life. The iPhone gets many more hours per charge than the Palm does in my daily use. Typically I get 12 hours or a half day more time with the iPhone.
Now, onto the business applications / implications of the iPhone. My iPhone is not really “my iPhone” it belongs to my employer and they are gracious enough to provide it to me so that I am much more able to get work done and answer questions when I am away from the office. Typically, when I am away from the office I am really away from the office. My first work trip was four weeks in the Middle East. Everywhere I went my iPhone worked, and worked beautifully. Several of my traveling companions had the blackberry world phones, which were pretty much bricks in most of the places we visited. They were constantly ejecting the batteries and restarting and turning the radios off and on to get signal. I fought none of these battles. Typically when we landed I chose from a list of networks, found the fastest one, and went about my emailing until we moved onto the next area we were working in. The iPhone never had a problem and actually worked much better and faster overseas that it does here in the US, thanks At&T. My phone works better in third world nations than it does here in the good old US of A.
The killer app on the phone for me is nothing out of the app store. It is the built in email application. It integrates much better into Exchange than any Widows mobile phone I have ever used. It is also much better than the Blackberries because there is no 3rd party server in the way slowing down data and demanding extra licensing fees. The onscreen keyboard was excellent once I got used to is and the message delivery is fast. My phone buzzes here sitting on my desk at the same instant the outlook notification pops up on my screen, if not before. In my time in IT I have worked on many many different types of mobile devices for the purpose of sending and receiving email. The iPhone in my opinion is the best I have seen. The Palm integrates right into my Gmail like I said, but for us Gmail is not our communication platform, we are a Microsoft shop for the most part and for us Exchange is where it’s at. If your company uses Google Apps, the Palm may very well be the way to go, but if you are going to use Exchange, get an iPhone and don’t look back.
With all of the rambling I know I might seem a little wishy-washy but in my mind it is clear from what I have experienced that here in the US I for my Facebook, Gmail, twitter, foursquare (stalker net), and general web surfing the Palm reigns supreme. But, if you are in the corporate world, or need to look cool and feel as If you are, the iPhone can’t be beat for a day in day out personal organizer with email. Just like a Newton that has finally grown up. When I first saw the Palm Pilot and Windows CE devices of a decade ago I would have never guessed that would have one got connected to the internet in the fashion that they are today, and two become such an integral part of our day to day social life.